Boise Rescue Mission: Saving one life at a time

Credit: Troy Colson/KTVB

William Kelley used to call this spot along the Boise River his home.

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by Scott Evans

Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on November 23, 2011 at 4:12 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 12 at 1:44 PM

BOISE -- Our annual 7CARES Day is coming up on December 10th.  In the past two years your drive-up donations have raised over $100,000 and you've brought in over 140,000 pounds of food.

This year we will once again be partnering with several organizations to help those who need it the most over the holidays.

One of those organizations is the Boise Rescue Mission.

William Kelley was truly rescued from a life of drugs, homelessness and death.

Standing underneath the overpass of Veterans Memorial Parkway brings back a lot of memories for William Kelley.

"I used to go by Bill, but I used to have a slang pet name that a lot of drug addicts called me, and it was Spud Monkey Bill," said Kelley.

For years, this was an escape.

"It's not a healthy environment for me," said Kelley.

It was home.

"It's a kind of place where you can hide and be away from reality," said Kelley.

Kelley was a drug addict.

"Mostly meth now, because living in Boise, there's a lot more meth than there is heroin. And it's a lot easier to get a hold of," said Kelley.

His first hit came when he was 14.

He walked in on his sister's babysitter shooting up with heroin. She offered to share.

"She stuck some heroin in my arm and I've been an addict ever since," said Kelley.

For 30 years he lived the life of an addict.

"You don't want to ever give Spud Monkey Bill dope because you'll never see it again, because that's what I did. I would do it," said Kelley.

He never made it to the 9th grade.

"I didn't have a home. When you're a drug addict and you're running meth, and you're sticking needles in your arms, and are you are doing is living one shot to the next, you don't have a home, so you look for a place to hide," said Kelley.

Amped up on drugs, Kelley says he would stay awake for days using islands in the middle of the Boise River to hide from police.

"Like that little spot right there, bro. You just come in right there, and you just push the weeds away and you lay down and hide and you cry yourself to sleep," said Kelley.

His life was nothing to envy.

"I've actually had three people die in my arms from an overdose of heroin, and cocaine and meth," said Kelley.
Five years ago Kelley hit rock bottom.

"I got my leg broken by a drug dealer. Why? Because he gave me a big bag of dope to sell for him and I did it all," said Kelley.

His probation officer referred him to the Boise Rescue Mission.

"I've got so much to learn. Just stop using is just the beginning of what it's going to take for me to have a normal life," said Kelley.

"This is a place that is a refuge for people,and when people come here they can get the tangible help that they need to move back into the community," said Bill Roscoe, Executive Director of the Boise Rescue Mission.

So Kelley stepped foot inside the shelter. He began to eat real meals. And he got a room.

"Did you see where we were at the river today? That little hole in the dirt with the trees with the cops chasing me and the needle hanging out of my arm. Okay, yeah, this is my oasis, my saving grace. This is what's saving my life right here," said Kelley.

After 30 years of sticking needles in his arm, since joining the Rescue Mission five years ago, Kelley has relapsed only once.

"I'm there because I still can't do it by myself. It's been almost five years, but you know what…I'm thinking 30 years of meth use, you can't fix it over night," said Kelley. "Every time that I've needed them they've told me to come home.”

And just Kelley as relied on the Rescue Mission, the mission relies on you.

"We are dependent on this community. We don't receive any government funding, and so all of the resources we have here come from the generous people of the Treasure Valley," said Roscoe.

That allows them to serve upwards of 1,000 hot meals a day to people in need.

"It's a place to get better. It's a place to move on. It's a transitional thing," said Kelley.

It gives them the resources to provide beds and a warm place to stay for 400 people every night -- at places like the River of Life, City Light and the Lighthouse.

"I've served in rescue missions in California and Denver, Colorado, wonderful, wonderful communities with great folks and great ministries, but this community is really head and shoulders above any place I've ever been." said Roscoe.

And that gives people like Kelly something that he's never had before.

"I've got a lot of love and support right now," said Kelley. "Nobody in my life has ever been there for me like they have.”

His plan is to never return to his home under the overpass again.

"I don't want to be a drug addict any more. I want to be a part of society," said Kelley.

"Where would you be without the Boise Rescue Mission?” asked NewsChannel 7.

“I'd probably be dead. I'd probably be dead,” replied Kelley.

We'd love for you to come join us Saturday, December 10th and make a donation.

You can also Text 7CARES to 50555 to donate $10 to the 7CARES Fund, split equally among the Boise Rescue Mission, the Idaho Foodbank, the Jubilee House and the Salvation Army.

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